Jeff Tsao has fulfilled part of his long-term growth plan by opening a production kitchen to serve his two Fukuryu Ramen restaurants.
Soup stocks, pork belly, sauces, seasonings and other foods are being made at 748 Harmon Ave. in Columbus.
"The production kitchen was always part of the plan to keep consistencies, efficiencies and flavor, so in stores we can focus on the guests," Tsao said. "We were looking for more than a year and a half to buy our own building. But nothing was open. And we couldn't find a place to fulfill our needs."
He said the kitchens in his restaurants, 1600 W. Lane Ave. in Upper Arlington and 4540 Bridge Park Ave. in Dublin, were too small to create all the complexities of the noodle soups and other menu items. The original location in Melbourne, Australia, has closed, Tsao said.
Opening a production kitchen to serve two restaurants might seem excessive, but Tsao is looking to expand.
Tsao, an alumnus of the Kahiki Supper Club restaurant, which closed about two decades ago, and Kahiki Foods, which was sold, said he planned to have a third location open already but would wait until the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic eases. He said he probably would open a location in east Columbus but hasn't signed a lease.
He said he expects to open franchising opportunities in Ohio and beyond, but interstate transportation would require a license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Tsao opened his first central Ohio Fukuryu Ramen in 2016 in Upper Arlington to an audience that seemed largely unfamiliar with that style of Japanese fare. He opened the Dublin location in 2018.
The pandemic has changed his plans, and although he still serves dine-in customers following social-distancing rules, he also offers carryout and delivery.
He said he didn't do so initially because he didn't want to compromise the integrity of the soup. Now the broth and noodles are packaged separately, and customers are given heating instructions.
"When we first opened in (Upper Arlington) and Australia, we were reluctant to do it," he said. However, "we felt like it was an industry movement anyway."
Customers may order food for delivery from the production kitchen through fukuryuramen.com or via Apple and Android apps.
From the streets of New York City, Sammy's Halal has opened in the food court at Polaris Fashion Place, 1500 Polaris Parkway, Columbus.
Its menu includes chicken shawarma, falafel, gyros, soups and desserts.
Sammy's Halal got its start in 2002 in New York City, and four years later, won "best food" in the Vendy Awards, an annual street-food competition among vendors in New York City.
Chapman's Eat Market quietly opened Aug. 14 in German Village.
The restaurant, which replaces Wunderbar and Pierogi Mountain at 739 S. Third St., once the home of the original Max & Erma's, brings a new style of scratch cooking to central Ohio.
A few examples: an old-school burger served on a housemade bun, special sauce made from scratch and french fries fried in beef fat, pork fat and clarified butter; lamb shank barbacoa served with green rice, spicy chili chickpea puree, raisins and mint; and spaghetti alla chitarra with mashed tomatoes, eggplant and homemade ricotta.
Even the ice cream is homemade.
Owner BJ Lieberman said carryout service is available only from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. The restaurant is closed Sundays and Mondays.
Lieberman said he's working on a plan to offer dine-in service.
He said the menu covers a lot of territory, including gluten-free, vegan and dairy-free options. Alcohol to go is available at Chapman's, he said.
"We want to have something for everyone," Lieberman said.
A former burlesque dancer at Bossy Grrl's Pin Up Joint now is a partner in the University District establishment.
Cora Helton, whose stage name is Cora Mandragora, has bought out Cheryl Graham's stake in the bar and joined investor Mike Folker in the ownership team.
Helton said the plan is to reopen Bossy Grrl's, 2598 N. High St. in Columbus, in mid-September. The business has been shuttered since March when bars and restaurants closed to dine-in customers statewide because of the coronavirus. That order was lifted in May.
"It's a challenge, and people very much want to see live shows," Helton said.
She said shows would be modified to fit social-distancing requirements. She and Folker also have removed the coffee bar and will pare the liquor and beer offerings.
Bossy Grrl's provided some online shows and has moved some entertainment to the Vanderelli Room in Franklinton, which has allowed the burlesque to continue on the patio until the bar reopens, Helton said.
"I think we'll be able to do some shows," she said, but "I don't think we'll be able to have a band and do things that we used to" until conditions improve.